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Updated Boston tea party reveals Spring Air’s plans

David Perry — Furniture Today, January 18, 2011

David Perry”David Perry Executive editor”

David Perry”David Perry Executive editor”Spring Air International President Rick Robinson and I sat in the lobby of the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston on a frosty winter day. He was sipping coffee from the nearby Starbucks, while I, in a nod to our setting, was drinking Chai tea.

Almost exactly 237 years ago, on another frigid day, patriots dumped hundreds of chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. And one of the three ships carrying the tea, the Dartmouth, had been anchored earlier at the historic Long Wharf where Rick and I were relaxing in the Marriott’s warm, comfortable lobby. Our modern-day tea party was a chance for me to get an update on Spring Air, a well-known bedding brand now on the comeback trail. This was my first visit to Spring Air’s new home in nearby Chelsea, where the company’s headquarters and a 77,000-square-foot factory are located.

Spring Air’s headquarters have moved around over the years. Back in the 1980s they were in downtown Chicago. Then the producer moved to Bedding Row out on River Road in Des Plaines before settling into its own building in Elk Grove Village, another Chicago suburb. Next Spring Air’s headquarters moved to Tampa, Fla., when Consolidated Bedding ran the show. Now Boston is home.

As that list of locations indicates, Spring Air has undergone some significant changes over the years. The brand rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, leveraging aggressive promotions and product offerings to provide a solid alternative to the bigger “S” brands. Spring Air once occupied the industry’s No. 4 position. The shutdown of the former corporate entity in May 2009 was accompanied by a big sales hit; Spring Air finished 2009 with shipments of $95 million, almost a 50% drop, according to our Top 15 Bedding Producers report.

But the brand is steadily regaining lost ground, Robinson told me. He said Spring Air was expecting to wrap up 2010 with shipments of $125 million, a substantial increase. And he ticked off a long list of retailers who signed on with Spring Air last year, which he said is an indication that the brand is gaining momentum.

Spring Air’s competitors say they don’t hear much from Spring Air these days, but Robinson says he doesn’t worry about what others are saying. He contends that it has been more important to take care of business over the past 18 months than to spend time talking about it. Robinson also said that Spring Air will be staging a “coming out party” this year. Spring Air will be more visible in the marketplace, he promises. He also said that many retailers are pulling for Spring Air to succeed and have told him that the industry needs a strong Spring Air.

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